If I was easy to find, then I wouldn’t be doing a very good job. But, if you managed tracked down Allspades and Scanner already, then I guess I should be next anyway.
The last days of Rumor.
Depending on who you ask, they lasted anywhere from a week to almost five years. Personally, I think that Rumor died the same day Kalliope did. But then again, heroes come back from the dead all the time. Rumor just took a few years to get back on his feet.
One of the last things I ever heard him say was that heroes can’t retire; the ones that try, no matter how long they last, always end up dying as a hero. I think anyone you ask will say that he did, but if you asked him, he’d tell you something didn’t.
Rumor was a perfectionist; the kind of guy who could never forgive himself for missing a step or losing track of somebody. I found out a few years later that he’d almost figured out I’d vanished before they tried to lock me out. The kind of guy who can figure out a memory’s missing just from the shape of the hole it left behind is not the kind of person who could forgive himself for being even a little bit late.
If you want to understand what happened to him, then I think I can give you an idea, but I need you to understand something.
What do you think is the day that I regret the most in my life?
I think, most people who actually know about me would probably give you one of two answers. The day my brother died, or the day Rumor died.
If you’ve done any research on me I’m sure you heard about my brother. He didn’t die of an overdose, although I’m pretty sure at least a few people thought he did; he died in rehab. Withdrawals hit him too hard, and the facility couldn’t get him through it.
I’m not going to say that wasn’t a big moment. Him going to rehab is what made me become a hero, and him dying just drove me further on that path. But that didn’t make me who I am. I was a teenager running on anger and adrenaline. I’m still surprised I didn’t get someone killed in those first few months.
As for Rumor; his death hit all of us differently. I think I blamed myself for the part I played in it more than any of the others even considered. It took two of us to get him into position, but I couldn’t help but feel like it was entirely my fault. But that’s not the day I regret the most.
The day he died was the end of a long path that started months sooner. So the day I regret the most wouldn’t be the day he died. It would be the day I killed him.
I had just come back from being trapped in Between for weeks. And he was there; he tried to let me know that everything would be all right and I ran away. I’d figured out who he was by then. Then I told him something he already knew.
It didn’t seem like much at the time, to either of us. The words didn’t hit him hard, and I didn’t try to make them hurt. At the time, I’d just wanted to get away. I’d wanted to say something that would get him off balance so I could be alone. And it worked. We were both left alone with our thoughts; I got to go see my mother and she greeted me like I’d been off visiting relatives for over a month, and Rumor was thrown right into Trump’s Invasion. But somehow, between then and the next time I saw him, he had started to become his old self again.
He didn’t really change too much. He was the same old man who got us to talk to each other as he’d ever been. But over the next few weeks, he seemed more open. He still didn’t talk about being Rumor, he still didn’t talk about any of his old teammates, but if you asked him how his day was you could actually get an answer.
It probably doesn’t seem like much, but it was a good change. I think that we actually connected with him more in those next few weeks than we had in the months before. Even in the middle of the last supervillain war of the Second Age, he managed to find the time to make sure all of us were alive and safe.
Rumor was coming back, even if none of us realized it at the time. Even the people who’d known him all his life only noticed much later.
A couple months of becoming the man the world respected once more. I hope he was able to be even a little happy during that time. Maybe then, I could convince myself it was worth it; a few months of happiness in exchange for a death I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But that thought’s never made it easier to sleep.
You probably think I’m silly. It was months after I said that that he decided to go out fighting. The idea that I traced it back to something as small as that day is probably insane. I’m aware of that, but trust me when I say that that’s the day that started it all.
If I had done things differently, sitting on that couch, then Rumor wouldn’t have had to sacrifice himself. If we had realized the truth sooner, then there’s so much more we could have done to prepare. We could have warned people capable of stopping it safely.
Instead, I said the words that would make him Rumor again, and he decided that he needed to be the one to end it.
The moment that defines who I am now, is the moment I ran away from a man who was only trying to help, and I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since.
Memoirs of the Second Age